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Epilepsy Surgery Improves Depression and Anxiety

Postoperative psychiatric changes seen in patients who undergo resection for seizures

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 14 (HealthDay News) -- Seizure-controlling surgery can reduce anxiety and depression, especially in patients with treatment-refractory epilepsy who are seizure-free after the operation, according to a report in the Dec. 13 issue of Neurology.

Orrin Devinsky, M.D., of New York University School of Medicine, and colleagues reviewed data on 360 people enrolled in a study of resective epilepsy surgery between 1996 and 2001.

Moderate and severe levels of depression were reported in 22% of patients, with 24.7% of patients reporting similar levels of anxiety, prior to surgery. After the operation, rates of both depression and anxiety declined at the three-, 12-, and 24-month follow-up periods. Seizure control was associated with a lower frequency of depression and anxiety disorders, the authors write. After surgery, depressive symptoms were significantly less frequent in seizure-free patients (8.2%) versus those who continued to experience seizures (17.6%).

"Our findings suggest that in counseling about epilepsy surgery, patients should be informed that preoperative psychopathology improves in most patients," the authors conclude.

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